As of yet I’m not a published author. Perhaps one day I’ll be, but right now most days are a battle against self-doubt.
I don’t know if this is because of the world we live in. I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I could remember, but my entire life I’ve lived with the idea that only a select few ever makes the cut and if I were to study something writing-related, I’m wasting my time and I’ll never be able to survive. I’m 35 years old now. Since then I studied something else. Only last year did I finally manage to finish my first story.
Or perhaps it is because it really is a dastardly world to break into. There are thousands of people who want to be writers. Go read any blog or web post by agents or publishers and you’ll find they start out by apologising that they’ll probably won’t want your work.
There are many other reasons I could name, but the truth is that a little part of me dies every time I receive an e-mail with a rejection of my work. Every time I read: “Unfortunately…” I start to doubt myself and that which I’ve created. I start to think how unoriginal my story is; how two-dimensional the characters and how flimsy the plot. I think of all the grammatical errors I must have made, especially as I’m not a native English-speaker. How can some nobody from a little non-English country hope to ever write an English book that’s worth reading, never-mind publishing.
That’s often the time I take refuge in blogs. I really don’t know why. Really. But before I can stop myself, I’ve read and found a dozen blogs about writing and writing tips and how a plot should look and mistakes everyone makes and tropes we need to kill… It’s a very long list, and I find I can’t help but compare my story to every list I find. You know: mentally ticking off every mistake or success and weighing the two against one another. Guess which one always wins?
I wish I had the answer. I wish I could tell you it will be okay. If I were a psychiatrist or therapist or motivationalist I’d probably advise myself to believe in myself and trust in my work (ever heard one of those telling you they think you’re an asshole and if they were you they’d rethink your life-choices?). I don’t know about you, but often I just need someone to tell me it’s okay, they’ll take over now and when do I want my first royalty-check?
Though I don’t have an answer – never-mind the answer (which is 42, anyway) – I do know self-doubt can kill dreams before they’ve even had a chance to grow. Perhaps I’ll never be good enough to be published (although E.L. James managed it); perhaps I’ll write a thousand books and the only person to ever read them will be my hubby; but I do know that even when I only receive rejection and it takes months to stick my head out and try again, I need to try again. If I want to survive this life, I need to try again. As Jack O’Neill said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try…try, try gain.”